At the water polo tournament of the 17th FINA World Championships it was only women who could defend their title, gold medallist in Kazan, Serbia clinched bronze this time. After claiming two European titles, three World League titles, Olympic gold and world title in Kazan team Serbia could not reach to the top this time, braking their victory streak. The bronze match on Saturday was attended by Vanja Udovicic , Minister of Sports in Serbia, former world class water polo player. He evaluated the Serbian team’s performance briefly.
Serbia claimed bronze at the water polo tournament, losing its throne after a long time. Yet a medal is a medal. Are you satisfied? – we asked Vanja Udovicic, two-time world champion, Olympic silver and bronze medallist, European champion aged only 31 now.
I am sorry the team couldn’t make it to the final, it would have been great to play against Hungary for the gold, most probably it would have been the peculiarity of the tournament hosted by Budapest. I would like to congratulate our team on writing sports history in this past period: they returned home from each of the last ten international tournaments with a medal, 9 out of th 10 were gold. We shall be proud of this streak; I hope they will continue in the future. I am proud to represent the interests of these players as their Minister of Sports. They are brilliant role models for youngsters, their example shall become the path to take by future generations. The national water polo team of Serbia represents genuine values.
What are your impressions about the World Championships in Budapest?
Hats off to organisers and the entire Government of Hungary. I had the opportunity to discuss with Tünde Szabó, Minister of State for Sport, with whom we used to be fellow athletes in the pool and now we are colleagues. I have congratulated her, as well, I believe the World Championships depict an amazing image of Hungary, Budapest. This World Championships edition goes way beyond any expectation; it will serve as a very high standard for future hosts.
They say there are financial issues in Serbia which may hinder the status of water polo in the country. Clubs are facing serious hardships. How does it affect the national team?
Achievements and successes of the national team provide for a good basis for the sports education of younger generations as well as for the operation of clubs. The Government of Serbia is dedicated to providing proper conditions for the preparation of our athletes. In recent years we have done tremendous work to ensure athletes are treated differently, in terms of bonuses as well as conditions of competition. Infrastructure is under development, athletes can now train at home, it is not necessary for them to travel abroad for trainings, yet we provide all conditions if the sports crew decides to do so. It applies not only to water polo but any other disciplines, as well. Since I have taken office as a Minister for Sports Serbia has clinched three times more medals at international tournaments than before. Last year Serbian athletes bagged a total of 37 medals at major tournaments.
We support local sports federations, workshops and clubs to create a harmonic environment for future generations and raise such sporting talents as we have seen here in the water. Unfortunately the field of water polo has never been an easy one, but we are doing our best to improve the situation for clubs.